President Bush today sent the Senate 30 nominations for lifetime positions on the federal district and circuit courts, including 14 candidates for crucial appeals court judgeships, as well as several other judicial nominations. Among the nominees are Charles Pickering and Priscilla Owen – both rejected last year by the Senate Judiciary Committee – and a number of other judges with troubling records on civil rights and other issues, some of whom are opposed by local, state and national civil rights, women’s rights, and other organizations.
Statement of Ralph G. Neas on the White House Economic Stimulus Plan and Judicial Nominations
Judge Shedd’s record of hostility and insensitivity to the rights of minorities, women and people with disabilities demonstrates that he should not have been promoted to the U.S. Court of Appeals. If the president continues to nominate candidates like Judge Shedd, Democrats and moderate Republicans must oppose them.
People For the American Way strongly criticized today’s Senate Judiciary Committee vote to recommend for confirmation the nominations of Judge Dennis Shedd to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and Professor Michael McConnell to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. Both nominations now head to the Senate floor.
Today, without bipartisan consultation with the Senate, the White House released a new plan to push faster confirmation for President Bush’s judicial nominations. People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas said the White House proposal was “pure politics in the unilateralist style that is the hallmark of this administration.”
So far in this election season, there has been almost no attention paid to the fact that for the first time since 1929, the right wing of the Republican Party might have effective control of all three branches of government. Given the consequences of that dominance, it is urgent that the silence on this issue be broken. People For the American Way is ready to end that silence with a hard-hitting television ad.
As the Supreme Court prepares to begin its 2002-03 Term on Monday, October 7, a series of important civil rights and civil liberties cases are already on its docket. The cases the Court is scheduled to hear deal with congressionally mandated Internet filtering in public libraries, legal protections for family planning clinics, whether state employees are protected under the Family and Medical Leave Act, and more
People For the American Way has serious concerns about Miguel Estrada, nominated to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Mr. Estrada’s recorded work raises significant doubts about whether he possesses the judicial temperament, the commitment to open-minded decision-making, and the necessary appreciation of fundamental civil and constitutional rights and liberties needed in any nominee to this lifetime appointment.
In evaluating the nomination of Michael W. McConnell, there is no question that he possesses the intellectual ability and technical legal skills to be a federal judge. People For the American Way and People For the American Way Foundation have worked closely with, and in some cases against, McConnell on religious liberty issues on several occasions, and we have great respect for his intellect and legal skills. But these important prerequisites are clearly not sufficient for an individual to be confirmed to a lifetime position on the federal appellate bench. No one can seriously question that President Bush and his advisors were influenced by McConnell’s well-known legal philosophy and ideology in nominating him. By the same token, as more than 200 law professors have written to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senators should consider whether a nominee has demonstrated an “open mind to decision-making” and a “record of commitment to the progress made on civil rights, women’s rights, and individual liberties.”